MOSTLY MARTHA (DREI STERNE), by writer/director Sandra Nettelbeck,
has some nice characters stuck in a thin script. Although its food
photography is uniformly delicious, the movie's other ingredients are a bit stale.
Martha Klein (Martina Gedeck) is a hard working chef who never permits
herself any free time. An attractive woman, she always wears her
hair pulled back sternly into a tight bun. As she works, a few sweaty
strands keep getting in front of her eyes.
When Martha has to be out in order to take care of a family emergency,
the restaurant's owner hires an additional chef, Mario (Sergio Castellitto).
Singing and dancing, Mario is as free-spirited an Italian in the
restaurant's kitchen as Martha is an uptight, by-the-book German.
Needless to say, they clash. And, of course, they will eventually
fall in love. It's all predestined and obvious from the first time
that we watch them together.
Martha's emergency is the death of her sister, which inconveniently
leaves her sister's eight-year-old daughter, Lina (Maxime Foerste),
without parents. Lina's father, who lives somewhere in Italy, has
long since gone AWOL. Martha, who can't even take care of herself,
is left to cope with Lina. Refusing to eat or attend school, Lina
proves to be a real handful. You can probably guess the rest of the story.
Between the sporadically interesting scenes -- the beautiful ones
involving food preparation and serving -- I found a way to pass the
time. I brushed up on my German. If you do see the film, I recommend
fasting ahead of time and booking a nice restaurant for immediately
afterwards. That's the way to enjoy the movie.
MOSTLY MARTHA runs 1:45. The film is in German with English subtitles.
It is rated PG for "thematic material and mild language" and would
be acceptable for anyone old enough to be able to read subtitles.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes